Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing is a classic program to learn touch typing. These are my observations based on the Platinum 20 version of this software.
At first use, it asks you to create a user with your goals - like the words per minute (WPM) and accuracy you want to achieve. There are also other preferences, such as keyboard type, newline style and background music. It supports multiple user profiles, each with other goals and preferences.
Based on your goal, the program takes you through several levels of lessons using a main tutor interface and also some games.
The main tutor interface is perfect: you repeat the text shown at the top, while at the bottom the specific type of keyboard you chose is displayed with an animation of the hand-fingers placement for the next letter. I have used many touch typing programs and the display of the hand-fingers placement in this program is what I found to be crucial for my learning.
In between the lessons, the program puts you in some typing games: they are very silly, simple and the graphics are frankly terrible - like a college project made in Adobe Flash.
In addition to these, as you progress to the final levels you will also participate in dictation lessons and transcription lessons. The dictation lessons had some bug, where the audio would skip over to the next sentence and there was no way to get it back on track. Pressing
Ctrl + R to repeat the sentence did not help. For the transcription lessons, the transcript can be found in the help documentation of the program.
One of my biggest problems with the higher levels is just how repetitive it got. I plateaued in my learning and subjecting me to the same 5 passages from some classic English books wasn’t great. It would have been nicer if they had chosen a vast library of texts from public domain books.
All in all, I found that this was the only program with which I was able to learn to touch type correctly, especially the numbers and special characters. The key to all that was the animated display of finger placement. The downside of this program was how limited it was in its teaching capability once I reached a decent speed.